For a Good Takeaway, The Swing’s the Thing
In this multiple-exposure photograph, a ball positioned between the elbows can help give the proper feel for the proper takeaway on a typical golf swing. (Courtesy photograph)
When taking the club away from the ball, trying to get all your body parts to move in unison is like the first step of a ballroom dance on Dancing with the Stars. A good takeaway in golf has your body parts connected and moving as one piece. It takes teamwork, patience and plenty of practice.
Your upper back, arms and hands are the key players in your takeaway. If they don’t work together or in the right order, the whole song and dance is out of sync and the audience will boo your bad shots.
A good takeaway begins with your thoracic spine or upper back as the lead. Your arms and then hands are partners that follow. Rotating your upper back around your spine first, while maintaining the forward tilt in your posture, is the beginning of the dance.
Our hands love to take over and almost always try to take the lead and steal the show. These smaller and faster-moving parts make your swing feel quick and will always outpace the bulkier and slower-moving upper back muscles if you let them.
When your hands take the lead, they often yank the club head inside, under the swing plane and behind you, causing missteps during the downswing such as the over-the-top swing fault.
To get a good feel of your back, arms and hands dancing together, put a ball between your forearms at address and practice your takeaway by rotating only your back to lead your forearms and quiet hands. Judges will be looking for the letter Y formed by your arms and club, the butt end of the grip pointing at your left thigh and the club handle or grip inside your club head while you’re taking the club away.
This initial step of ballroom dancing is the “close embrace,” where the lead and follow are connected and timing ensured throughout the dance. When your back, arms and hands boogie together, you’ll set yourself up for more power and better ball-striking. And the judges will certainly reward you with better numbers on your scorecard.
Peter Harris is director of golf at the Fore-U Golf Center in West Lebanon. His column will appear regularly on the VALLEY NEWS recreation page during the playing season.